Spain investigates how nurse caught Ebola

Spain investigates how nurse caught Ebola

Spanish authorities Tuesday were investigating how a nurse who cared for two Spanish priests who died from Ebola became infected.

The female assistant nurse was part of a medical team that treated Manuel Garcia Viejo, 69, who died Sept. 25 at Madrid’s Carlos III hospital after contracting Ebola in Sierra Leone.

The nurse was also a member of a medical team that treated another Spanish priest who earlier died from Ebola, but it’s believed she contracted the virus from Viejo.

The nurse has not been named. Spanish media said she is around 40 years old and only went into Viejo’s room twice — once to directly assist in his care, another time to clean his room after he died. On both occasions she was wearing specialist protective clothing.

She is the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside of West Africa. Health officials described her condition as stable.

The woman, who is married and has no children, went on vacation the day after Viejo died. On Sunday, she checked into a public hospital in the Madrid suburb of Alcorcon with a fever and was placed in isolation.

Antonio Alemany, Madrid’s director of primary health care, told reporters Tuesday that the woman had no symptoms besides the fever and that authorities were drawing up a list of people the nurse had contact with so they can be monitored.

He did not say where she spent her vacation, nor did he specify whether health authorities are checking people with whom she came into contact on vacation.

The nurse’s husband and a second nurse are being quarantined. A man who arrived on a flight from Nigeria has also been quarantined, Spanish health authorities said. Other people who may have come into contact with the nurse are being monitored.

European Commission spokesman Frederic Vincent said Tuesday that Spain would need to provide “explanations” as to how the nurse got infected. A failure to follow medical protocol has not been ruled out.

The World Health Organization estimates the latest Ebola outbreak has killed more than 3,400 people. It said the actual figure may be far higher due to unreported cases.

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